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Ossessione (1943)

Cast: Clara Calamai, Clara Calamai, Massimo Girotti, more...
Director: Luchino Visconti, Luchino Visconti
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Studio: Image Entertainment
Genre: Classics, Drama, Foreign, Italy, Classic Drama, Classic Crime, Crime, Classic Crime, Classic Drama
Running Time: 135 min.
Languages: Italian
Subtitles: English
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Often considered one of the first examples of Italian neorealism, Luchino Visconti's first film was this adaptation of James M. Cain's steamy novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, which would also be made twice in the U.S., first in 1946 with Lana Turner and John Garfield and then in 1981 with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. Massimo Girotti stars as a drifter named Gino, who gets a job at a provincial inn. The handsome wanderer attempts to resist the advances of Giovanna (Clara Calamai), the estranged wife of nasty innkeeper Bragana (Juan de Landa), but he eventually gives in. Gino then allows her to talk him into killing Bragana to get the insurance money, with predictable results. Although the melodramatic story is a far cry from the post-war social statements of such later neorealist classics as Roberto Rossellini's Rome, Open City (1945) and Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves (1948), the movie began to feature some of neorealism's defining characteristics: above all, an emphasis on outdoor shooting and natural light and a relentless focus on the lives of the poor. Ossessione caused a sensation not just because of its lurid subject matter but also because Visconti's realist style makes you practically feel the heat and dirt and sweat of the film's environment. ~ Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

No Postman by talltale October 10, 2004 - 6:18 AM PDT
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
OSSESSIONE is one strange movie--when viewed today, that is. If you can imagine watching it back in 1943 when it was made (under Mussolini's rule), you'll have a different "take" on it. Now, it appears melodramatic in the extreme--characters doing the love-at-first-sight thing and having epiphanies every few minutes--and resolutely cutting away from each dramatic event (murder, sex) just before it takes place. Censorship was in full bloom, of course, but given the steamy nature of the story, today this comes off as very nearly silly. Psychology is front and center, too, but handled in such a heavy-handed way as to pull the rug out from under its believability. There is no undercurrent here of the political situation (as there is, say, in the French "Le Corbeau," made the same year): this movie is solely about its "obsession," which proves a very safe way to make a movie under the restraints of a dictatorship. Still, you'll probably stick this one out, due to its haunting lead performances and the work of director Luchino Visconti (who literally stole this story from James M. Cain's "The Postman Always Rings Twice"). Here Visconti is, just starting out, discovering the themes and style he would fine-tune in later films. For those who appreciate the two leads (the highly dramatic Clara Calamai and the gorgeous Massimo Girotti), take a look at Dario Argento's "Deep Red" (to witness Calamai in later years) and the new "Facing Windows" to see Girotti's final--classy and classic--performance.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.28)
46 Votes
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